As It Happened: Chelsea breeze past Watford to move back into 4th
Photo by Getty Images/Christopher Lee


20:565 months ago

Thank you and goodbye!

That’s it for VAVEL UK’s live coverage of this Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford — we hope you enjoyed it.

Stay tuned on the site for more live text commentaries and further analysis and reaction to all top-flight matches in this gameweek.

20:565 months ago


Possession: 70%-30%

Shots: 21-8

On target: 9-3

Corners: 5-3

Fouls: 9-12

20:555 months ago


A big three points for Chelsea, as goals from Giroud, Willian and Barkley propel them back into 4th in the table and in the driving seat for Champions League qualification.

Though Watford won't have been expecting anything this evening, the manner of defeat was disappointing. Perhaps the only thing the Hornets will have learned tonight is that their post-restart slump is far from over, as they stay 17th and just one point above the relegation places.

20:525 months ago


92' Icing on the cake.

Azpilicueta slides the ball to Barkley roughly 12 yards out, and the midfielder finishes superbly into the top corner, earning his first goal in 20 months and a deserved third for his side.

20:505 months ago
91' There will be four minutes of added time at the end of this match.
20:505 months ago
91' Welbeck weaves into the Chelsea area and pulls the ball back for Hughes. It appears to be cleared off a defender's leg but, bizarrely, the goal kick is given.
20:495 months ago
90' Pereyra's shocking first touch is pounced on by Pulisic, but a sliding challenge from Kabasele saves the Argentine's blushes.
20:475 months ago
88' It should've been 3-0. James delivers a peach of a cross for Loftus-Cheek, but the 24-year old misreads the flight of the ball and heads well wide of the net.
20:465 months ago
86' The answer is no. Watford avoid another senseless risk leading to a goal.
20:445 months ago
85' It could be a second penalty of the game for Chelsea, as Pulisic appears to be shoved in the back by Kabasele.

The referee was unmoved, but will VAR overturn the decision?

20:425 months ago


83' Sarr makes way for Pereyra in Watford's final change of the game.

It's been a frustrating evening for the Senegalese forward, but can the Argentine make a difference here?

20:415 months ago
81' What a chance for Watford!

Chalobah drives forward in midfield and feeds the run of Welbeck behind the Chelsea defence. He aims for that far corner, but scuffs it somewhat, nonetheless  forcing Arrizabalaga into a diving save.

20:395 months ago
80' Masina hits a low free-kick towards the near bottom corner, but Arrizabalaga is equal to it.

A second shot on target for the visitors, quite the collector's item at the moment.

20:365 months ago


78' Kanté is replaced through precaution by youngster Billy Gilmour.
20:355 months ago


76' Giroud, Mount and Willian are all withdrawn for Abraham, Loftus-Cheek and Hudson-Odoi respectively.
20:345 months ago
75' From a free-kick, Hughes crosses in for Dawson at the back post, but the header goes high over the crossbar.
20:335 months ago
74' Devoid of other options, Masina picks the ball up 30 yards out and strikes at goal, but it was more than comfortable for Arrizabalaga.

That's Watford's first shot on target of this match.

20:315 months ago
72' For one of the first times in the match, Sarr is unleashed down the right flank and whips in a vicious cross for Welbeck, but Chelsea just about manage to clear.
20:305 months ago
70' 70 minutes without a change from Lampard, but you'd expect to see some substitutions from the home manager as time rolls by.
20:275 months ago
68' Zouma forces Foster into another save from the resultant corner.
20:275 months ago
68' Terrific build-up play allows Willian to cut in from the left, but Foster was on his toes and able to tip the ball behind for a corner.
20:235 months ago


64' Two more changes for the Hornets, as Cleverley and Masina replace Deeney and Femenía respectively.

A big call from Pearson to remove his captain from the field, and it sees earlier substitute Welbeck take the centre forward role.

20:225 months ago
62' Giroud is proving characteristically problematic on the end of crosses into the box, and his general presence is giving those Watford defenders a horrid evening.

Again, it's just a matter of time...

20:195 months ago
59' A mazy run from Willian springs Chelsea forward and the ball eventually drops to Giroud in a similar position from which he earlier scored, but Foster is equal to it this time around.
20:165 months ago


57' A possible change of shape for the Hornets sees Welbeck replace Capoue, who's had a far from ideal evening at Stamford Bridge.
20:155 months ago
55' Watford are so sloppy in possession here, unable to string three passes together.

In contrast, Chelsea look so comfortable with the ball, and are far from hazed by any amount pressure from their opponents.

20:105 months ago
51' Boy, have Chelsea come out of the blocks quickly here. Watford can't keep up with them, and can't keep hold of the ball, either.

Feels like just a matter of time before the hosts grab their third.

20:085 months ago


49' A second booking of the game for Watford sees Mariappa cautioned for leaving a leg on Pulisic.
20:065 months ago
47' Chelsea mount an early attack down the left, with Pulisic cutting onto his favoured right foot before firing high and wide of goal.
20:045 months ago


46' Chelsea get us back underway.
20:015 months ago
The teams have re-emerged, and the restart is just moments away.
19:525 months ago


Possession: 70%-30%

Shots: 11-3

On target: 5-0

Corners: 2-2

Fouls: 5-7

19:515 months ago


Goals from Giroud and Willian have Chelsea in a comfortable position and Watford with some real work to do.

The visitors won't necessarily have expected anything from this game, but could have performed far better at each end of the pitch.

For the Blues, though, this has been the perfect way to bounce back from a disappointing defeat last time out.

There's still 45 minutes to be played; let's see what the second half holds.

19:465 months ago
46' There will be three minutes of added time.
19:435 months ago


43' Calmly slotted home by Willian, sending Foster the wrong way.

Chelsea are cruising, but boy is this an uphill battle for Watford now.

19:425 months ago


42' Pulisic meanders his way into the box and is bundled over carelessly by Capoue. A certain penalty, and the hosts will probably double their lead.
19:405 months ago
40' James whips in a cross from the right, and it looks destined for the head of Giroud, but Foster just about manages to punch the ball clear.
19:385 months ago
38' Into the wall again; free-kicks haven't proved too fruitful thus far.
19:375 months ago
37' Kabasele fouls Giroud on the edge of the area. This is another pretty good location from which to strike a free-kick.
19:355 months ago
35' Sarr supplies a dangerous cross into the box, but the Chelsea defence manage to turn it behind. The visitors now have a corner on the left.
19:355 months ago
35' Chelsea on the hunt for a second, Watford desperate at all costs to avoid defeat. This game should get increasingly entertaining as either side searches for the next and crucial goal.
19:315 months ago
31' No goals in their last three away matches, but Watford will need one here.

It's not looking too likely at the moment, though.

19:295 months ago


28' There's the breakthrough!

Barkley feeds Giroud in the penalty area, who reads Dawson's sliding challenge and calmly slots the ball beyond both the defender and the helpless Foster.

A delightful finish from the Frenchman.

19:255 months ago
25' That wasn't too impressive from the Chelsea academy graduate; a long way over the bar.
19:245 months ago
24' A good counter-attack from Watford sees them draw a set-piece just outside the penalty area.

Can the Hornets end their free-kick drought here? Chalobah will take it.

19:235 months ago
23' The free-kick strikes the wall again.

Aside from that chance for Giroud, both teams are struggling to fashion meaningful opportunities here.

19:225 months ago


21' Capoue goes into the book for a rash challenge on Giroud. Chelsea have a free-kick, roughly 25 yards out and just off to the left.
19:195 months ago
19' Giroud is slipped in on goal by Pulisic, forcing a fantastic close-range save from Foster.
19:185 months ago
18' Deeney's in a spot of bother after a nasty collision with Zouma, so the game stops momentarily. It looks as if he'll be fine to play on.
19:165 months ago
15' This game's picking up quite a nice tempo now.

First, Watford mount a tidy attack down the left but fail to register their shot. Chelsea then break with pace, making it to the other box in a matter of moments, but Willian's shot proves no trouble for Foster.

19:145 months ago
13' It's swung in towards the head of Dawson, but the defender slips and the set-piece comes to nothing.
19:135 months ago
12' Now it's Watford's turn to have a go from a set-piece, positioned wide left.
19:115 months ago
11' Watford are generally withstanding the early pressure from their hosts quite well here, but need to cut out the habit of giving the ball away so cheaply. It will cost them.
19:085 months ago
8' The ball is worked nicely to Mount down the left; he forces a corner which comes to nothing.
19:085 months ago
8' Chelsea look very comfortable in possession here, but are yet to trouble an organised Watford defence.
19:055 months ago
5' It was Giroud, and it was straight into the wall.
19:045 months ago
4' Chelsea earn a free-kick in a promising position. Willian looks keen to take it.
19:025 months ago
2' Two minutes in, all of the action areas have been in Chelsea's defensive half. Make of that what you will.
19:005 months ago


1' Etienne Capoue of Watford get proceedings underway.
18:555 months ago
The teams are making their way out; kick-off is imminent.
18:065 months ago

Watford team

Foster; Mariappa, Kabasele, Dawson, Femenía; Capoue; Chalobah, Hughes; Doucouré; Deeney, Sarr.

Subs: Gomes, Cleverley, Welbeck, Masina, Cathcart, João Pedro, Gray, Holebas, Pereyra.

18:055 months ago

Chelsea team

Arrizabalaga; James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Barkley, Kanté, Mount; Willian, Giroud, Pulisic.

Subs: Caballero, Rüdiger, Alonso, Jorginho, Abraham, Pedro, Loftus-Cheek, Hudson-Odoi, Gilmour.

09:485 months ago

Stay tuned

That’s it for now, but the live text commentary will resume around one hour before kick-off as we bring you the team news.
09:485 months ago

How to watch

This fixture will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League, with coverage beginning at 19:45 BST, though you can of course follow the action here on VAVEL UK with minute-by-minute updates on all the goings on during the match.

You can also catch the highlights on BBC One’s Match of the Day, which will air at 22:20 BST; alternatively, a short highlights package will become available on the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel once the game has finished.

09:475 months ago

Frank Lampard quotes

“They [Watford] are a dangerous team and they have a spirit within them.

“The restart has been difficult for different clubs in different ways. They have a very good side and are fighting for points.

“Every game is going to be a tough one and it’s about getting the mentality right. We want to get into the Champions League and we can’t let our levels drop.”

09:475 months ago

Craig Shakespeare quotes

[Assistant head coach Shakespeare spoke to the press in place of head coach Nigel Pearson]

“We all know Chelsea have good quality in depth and they’ve used it to good intents so far.

“I think if you look at the form we showed earlier on and our performances, and I don’t want to harp back, but we know what we’re capable of.

“We know what performances these players have put in in the past and we know their attributes. The focus has to be on us, not anybody else.”

09:475 months ago

Watford team news

The Hornets will recall Andre Gray, Nathaniel Chalobah and Domingos Quina following their omission from the squad last time out — the trio had flouted government restrictions to attend a birthday party and were thought to be at risk of infection with COVID-19.

Gerard Deulofeu, Daryl Janmaat and Isaac Success are long-term absentees.

09:475 months ago

Chelsea team news

Midfielder Mateo Kovacic will miss out while nursing an ankle injury.

Fikayo Tomori also remains on the sidelines, but the rest of the squad is fit and raring to go.

09:465 months ago

Match facts

Watford have lost 13 of the last 17 meetings in all competitions, winning just once.

Furthermore, Stamford Bridge has not proven a happy place for the Hornets to ply their trade, with Chelsea unbeaten in 12 encounters on their home turf, a run stretching back 34 years.

There could be goals in this one, with 20 scored in the last four encounters at the Bridge for an average of five goals per game.

09:465 months ago

Last meeting

The most recent encounter between the two sides took place in November, when an in-form Chelsea side visited Vicarage Road looking to compound the misery of the so far winless Hornets — that they did, but it wasn’t without a fight.

The Blues got off to a flying start, with Tammy Abraham scoring inside five minutes, and the lead was doubled by Christian Pulisic shortly after half-time. Gerard Deulofeu then cut the deficit from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining, and Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster — who had singlehandedly kept his side in the game with a spectacular individual display — almost equalised with a diving header with just seconds of stoppage time remaining.

Perhaps spurred on by a sense of injustice in that fixture, Watford would pick up their first win of the campaign in their following assignment against Norwich City.

09:465 months ago

Watford's form

The return to action has not been a pleasant affair for the Hornets. A solitary point, just two goals scored and five conceded in three games against Leicester, Burnley and Southampton makes for grim reading as their fight for survival continues on its gruelling course.

The mediocrity of the performances against Burnley and Southampton have cast a shadow of gloom over Hertfordshire where, following an initial upturn in form under head coach Nigel Pearson, hope of securing Premier League football for next season is waning game-by-game. It does feel as if the Hornets will have to rely somewhat on the misfortune of their relegation rivals in order to stay in the division.

Watford currently sit 17th in the Premier League table.

09:465 months ago

Chelsea's form

For the most part, the Blues can be content with their form since the resumption of elite football in England, with wins over Aston Villa, Manchester City and Leicester City strengthening their claim for a place in next season’s Champions League.

However, defeat to West Ham United last time out was far from ideal. Despite the best efforts of Willian — who scored a brace in the game — Chelsea were undone in the closing stages by a rapid counter-attack finished off by Andriy Yarmolenko. Having left east London empty handed, Frank Lampard’s men will be hoping to get back on track here.

Chelsea currently sit 4th in the Premier League table.

09:455 months ago

Hello and welcome!

Hello and welcome to VAVEL UK’s live text commentary of this matchday 33 fixture in the Premier League, Chelsea vs Watford. Stay tuned for a comprehensive preview followed by live updates from when the match kicks off at 20:00 BST.